2020 has been a year of great change and uncertainty for many people, businesses, and governments across the world. From learning new ways of working to masks being a staple of our wardrobes, we have all had to learn together what our “New Normal” moving forward will look like.
The Bonifas is no different. Like many other non-profits, COVID hit the Bonifas hard. On March 17th, the Bonifas found itself closing its doors to the public while waiting out the pandemic. While this could have been a time of fear and anxiety, instead it became a season of creativity and exploration for the staff at the Bonifas. They found themselves researching and planning new ways to keep the Bonifas open during a time when close contact, and in some cases any contact at all, is not able to happen.
First, they took a pragmatic approach by deeply sanitizing the building before allowing people inside. The building is still sanitized daily and the staff takes care to make sure specific areas like doors, bathrooms, phones, and light switches are sanitized often. Masks, both traditional masks and fun cloth ones, are offered at all entrances with hand sanitizer being offered throughout the building. Social distancing is practiced both by the staff and the public, but the staff works hard to make every person who walks in the door feel welcomed.
The Bonifas focused on classes and events that could be held virtually, allowing more people to attend classes than would be able to attend in-person due to the restrictions. Thanks to a recent Art Bridges grant, the Bonifas was able to purchase new videography equipment that allows them to create quality online classes. With this grant they were also able to hire Craig Woerpel to train the staff on how to create professional videos of classes and livestreams. Classes like Art Essentials for Kids and What’s Cookin’ have been successfully held online with more classes offering this option in the near future. Events, such as Night of Magic and Wizardry, have also been able to be held online thanks to the creative planning of Events Coordinator, Paula Jordan and the Events Assistant, Olivia Johnson. Holding events and classes online was new for everyone but with a little tweaking and patience, they are off to a great start.
Things are still evolving for the Bonifas. On October 19th they decided to change their open hours to 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Tuesdays through Fridays and 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturdays due to the uptick in COVID cases in Delta County. Visitors are also asked to sign in when they enter the building to help track any outbreaks that might occur.
The Bonifas will continue to evolve and change as needed in order to provide the central Upper Peninsula inclusive, educational, and safe access to arts and culture. Through their creativity and passion for the arts, the staff will continue to find new ways to foster the sense of community that they are known for.